Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

United Might Break Guitars and the Funky Wedding Video Has Buzz, But Will It All Have a Susan Boyle Ending?


Oh, who doesn’t just love, love, love the two latest viral videos to hit the Web?

One, called “United Breaks Guitars,” is a very funny music video about an experience singer Dave Carroll had when the airline murdered his guitar and then refused to say sorry.

It has had close to 4.7 million views on YouTube.

The other, even better, is a joyful wedding dance of Minnesotans Jill and Kevin, along with their many grooms and bridesmaids, all of whom hilariously boogeyed down the aisle.

Current count: 17.1 million views.

While that’s all well and good, like a lot of these kinds of viral phenoms, neither is likely to go the distance in economic rewards.

While Google (GOOG), owner of YouTube, has been making noise about the wedding video causing a spike in sales of Chris Brown’s “Forever,” which is the music the wedding party shimmies to, this kind of one-off is not really a sustainable way to make video a true financial windfall.

And herein lies the problem–the Internet is most excellent at surfacing and distributing these delightful videos, but it still is not so good at revealing an organized, massive way they will all pay off.

That’s because much of it relies on buzz, which is simply unguessable.

And, even though more advertising efforts are being aimed at premium content on sites like Hulu, the revenue still remains much smaller than costs.

Consider the Susan Boyle sensation, which can doubtlessly be called 2009’s Web powerhouse. The video of her astonishing rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables” on the television show, “Britain’s Got Talent,” was a huge hit.

So far, the show’s YouTube post alone has 75.2 million views, but–due to a number of reasons–it did not make such sensational amounts of money.

Obviously, as consumers shift more and more time to watching Internet video, advertising allocations will be shifted too.

And, with media moguls like News Corp. (NWS) CEO Rupert Murdoch making copious noise about charging for content, it’s likely the most popular videos might begin to get some lucrative gating at some point.

But for delightful hits like the wedding dance or “United Breaks Guitars,” it will be interesting to see if they ever become more than watercooler wonders.

In any case, please enjoy the videos gratis!

Jill & Kevin:

United Breaks Guitars:

Susan Boyle:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus